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Two Foolproof Ways to Prospect in a Pandemic (Starting With a Pepperoni Pizza)

Sellers often come to me when they’ve hit a major stumbling block: a great potential client isn’t responding. In the last few weeks, it has been happening more often. Sellers asking for guidance are feeling frustrated, and often hopeless when they can’t reach potential clients.

I like to share with them this simple, yet powerful, story by Dr. A Jagan Mohan Reddy of a woman who bought a parrot to keep her company, but she returned it the next day.

“This bird doesn’t talk,” she told the owner.

“Does he have a mirror in his cage,” he asked. “Parrots love mirrors. They see their reflection and start a conversation.”

The woman bought a mirror and left. The next day she returned; the bird still wasn’t talking.

“How about a ladder? Parrots love ladders. The happy parrot is a talkative parrot.”

The woman bought a ladder and left. But the next day, she was back. 

“Does your parrot have a swing? No? Well, that’s the problem. Once he starts swinging, he’ll talk up a storm.”

The woman reluctantly bought a swing and left.

When she walked into the store the next day, her countenance had changed. “The parrot died,” she said. The pet store owner was shocked. 

“I’m so sorry. Tell me, did he ever say anything?”, he asked. 

“Yes, right before it died,” the woman replied. “In a weak voice, it asked me, ‘Don’t they sell any food at that pet store?’”

Sometimes we forget what’s really important in life and in business. We forget to feed our pipeline which today is our lifeline. We get caught up in things that are shiny and exciting while neglecting what is truly necessary. 

Lately, I’ve heard sellers say:

  • It’s not appropriate to call now
  • It’s marketing’s job to get me clients
  • I don’t know what to say
  • I don’t want to bother them
  • No one is returning my calls
  • It’s not their priority right now
  • I left an email/a voice message… (ok, but did you leave a mark)?

People are busy today; they’re also afraid, stressed out, and overloaded. 

It’s not that they don’t want to buy from you.

It’s just not their priority until you genuinely make it so.

So how can you get a hold of clients in a crisis?

  1. Be Creative: Here’s a story for you about my first really “big” deal, the one that launched my career.

2. Call out the Elephant in the Room– If you’re nervous or feel that touching base isn’t appropriate, tell the customer exactly that. A couple of weeks back, I listened to a podcast by emotional intelligence expert, Colleen Stanley, she recommended saying something like:

“I felt awkward reaching out because I thought you’d think I was trying to sell you something. I’m truly connecting to see how you’re doing at this time.” 

Or

“I’m honestly not trying to sell you anything. I may have a few resources and ideas that have helped several of our clients during the pandemic that may be of help to you.”

I tried this technique after texting and emailing a past client and got a response within thirty seconds! After a brief conversation the following week, we signed a large contract.

Now before you do this you have to make sure your intent is pure, that you really do just want to add value and be of service. 

Today, intent trumps technique.

Now, I tell you these stories because it’s an entryway into your own creativity and authenticity. Since you’re a part of this community, I know you’re clever—and I know you’re genuine. That’s a powerful combination for standing out from the herd of salespeople and getting attention the right way. 

Be more. Sell more.

19 Comments
  • Joshua Schildroth
    Reply

    Authenticity and creativity are a powerful And meaningful combination. Always great content Shari. Many thanks and the Parot story.. memorable!!

    May 11, 2020at12:02 pm
  • Great Story! Simple things r always difficult to execute.

    May 11, 2020at9:21 pm
  • Cheryl Rabashwa
    Reply

    Hi Shari, great story and a really creative way to close the deal. Great learning for me!

    May 14, 2020at7:17 am
  • I love this blog and it’s amazing – A food for thought & thought for food. Thanks for sharing this during this tough time.

    May 14, 2020at7:35 am
    • Edward Dobreski
      Reply

      Hi Shari,
      Keep them coming I love hearing from you. I’m working on being your next millionaire!
      Thanks Ed Dobreski

      May 14, 2020at8:26 am
  • Solomon Oguh
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing Shari…really appreciate

    May 14, 2020at10:08 am
  • phyllis r hastings
    Reply

    Loved the poem and pizza story . Also laughed so hard at the parrot story.

    Everything out of your mouth is true and authentic I am retired now but I always listen to your videos and read what you say. You are a diamond of a sales trainer across all types of businesses .

    May 14, 2020at11:54 am
  • Heidi Winkler
    Reply

    Thank you Shari, that was really helpful. Appreciate your insightful and humorous updates.

    May 14, 2020at2:48 pm
  • Fredo Diadio Jr.
    Reply

    Great Story! Especially During in this Challenging Times, Thanks Shari! And thanks also to my Boss who shared your Blog

    May 15, 2020at12:56 pm

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